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How Does Mixing Substances Affect My Recovery?

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Addiction is a complex disease, and whether one is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, a personalized approach is necessary. However, mixing substances — also called polysubstance use — can further complicate an already tumultuous recovery journey. 

Addiction recovery is a personal journey, and addressing not just how each substance affects an individual in isolation but also how it affects other substances is a core part of effective recovery. However, recovery and sobriety are always possible. Taking a unique approach to personal coping strategies, mental health, and physical well-being is crucial when addressing and overcoming polysubstance use. 

What Is Polysubstance Use?

Polysubstance use is the combination of any two addictive substances in tandem, typically used in quick succession. For example, using marijuana while still under the effects of heroin or drinking and using prescription opioids at the same time. Using multiple addictive substances together can exacerbate each of their effects, which can sometimes result in an increasingly intense high. However, the adverse effects of each substance are also increased, having devastating effects on one’s physical and mental health. 

While mixing substances may be intentional despite its ramifications, others may not be fully aware that they are using multiple types of drugs in the first place. Drugs can often be cut with other substances to increase their addictive properties or intensity. For example, those using marijuana may not be aware that other drugs are also present, depending on where they purchase drugs. Recognizing the effects of polysubstance use is necessary to create a truly effective recovery plan that addresses all substances in tandem for a transformative approach to healing. 

Addressing the Reasons Behind Mixing Substances

Mixing addictive substances can occur for many reasons, and understanding why an individual would engage in multiple addictive substances is crucial for creating a recovery plan. Some may have developed an ever-increasing tolerance to a particular drug and are more concerned with achieving a high rather than what particular substance is being used. Others who struggle with their mental health may experience feelings of desperation in an attempt to placate their trying emotional state, using whatever substances available to quell feelings of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and more. 

Discussing one’s attitudes surrounding the use of addictive substances is necessary for creating an effective recovery plan. However, regardless of the stresses or mental health disorders one is facing, recovery and sobriety are always possible. 

Creating a Recovery Plan

Mixing substances demand a unique approach to recovery. Addressing the use of alcohol without confronting the use of opioids, benzodiazepines, or other drugs can leave many gaps in one’s recovery strategies. Just as drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two affect every aspect of one’s life, recovery also needs to take a holistic approach to healing. This can be done by treating not just the symptoms of any individual substance, but rather by addressing how it affects one’s life and needs. 

Combining education, individual and group therapy, and the use of medications depending on one’s needs in detox with powerful personalized and medical support, recovery is a wholly transformative effort, and Pacific Sands is equipped to help you begin this journey.

Preparing for Detox

Detox is already one of the most challenging parts of recovery, and while no stage of recovery is “easy,” intense withdrawal symptoms are difficult to manage. However, for those using multiple substances, experiencing withdrawal symptoms from each of them is incredibly intense. Professionals are necessary to navigate these potent symptoms. 

It is difficult to predict how withdrawal symptoms will affect each individual. However, mixing substances can increase the intensity of one’s symptoms and make it difficult to manage one’s physical and mental health. Professionals monitoring one’s recovery, providing care and education, and being ready to provide medication as needed to address any particular medical emergency is crucial. 

Combining Therapies

Mixing substances produces a plethora of difficult and dangerous effects. However, recovery is never a straight line, and each individual will have their own best practices throughout their journey. Combining therapeutic modalities, individual and group therapy, exploring new experiences, and engaging in community efforts can allow those overcoming their use of multiple substances to address every aspect of their lives. 

Focusing on evolving relapse prevention techniques is also necessary, and professionals can help those battling polysubstance use to create an array of effective strategies for addressing urges and cravings for many types of addictive substances. Those challenging their use of multiple substances and the effects that mixing substances can have on one’s mental and physical health are never beyond repair. Rather, personalizing each recovery program with individual needs, medical care, and education can be a bridge to a healthy, sober future. 

Mixing addictive substances has intense effects on your physical and mental health. At Pacific Sands Recovery Center, we understand the unique challenges that those engaging in polysubstance use face on a regular basis, and our trained professionals are ready to help you take the first steps with you toward a sober future. We are committed to helping you through each stage of your recovery, beginning with a comprehensive detox program before helping you transition to your continued best care. From individual and group therapy, education, medication-assisted treatment, and much more, we are committed to making your first step into sobriety as effective as possible. Regardless of the substances you or a loved one are engaging with, we can help you today. For more information on how we can personalize your time with us, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your needs, call (949) 426-7962.


  • I would just like to share how Grateful I am with my experience through my addiction at this facility. I couldn’t possibly ask to be in such a “SAFE/COMFORTABLE” environment while receiving treatment for my addiction. I would just like to say Thank you sooo much to ALL the staff there from the Nurse’s to counselors and therapist all of you are a True Blessing in helping me through my journey of sobriety. I couldn’t feel more comfortable there on how they monitored my physical health and on dealing with my emotional health with there therapy sessions and groups I truly see them ALL as Family!

    Andrew N.
  • As a professional in the recovery field I have worked with many detox centers and none compare to The this one. Their staff is incredibly attentive and knowledgable regarding the needs of individuals seeking recovery from the very start. Their facility is welcoming and homey while remaining very luxe. I would recommend this facility to any loved one or friend looking to start down their journey of sobriety.

  • This place helped saved my life, and a great stepping stone to get my life on the right track. Was there first client under new management, caring staff and owners, comfortable place to get you on your feet in sobriety.

  • Great Staff. Comfortable Environment. Awesome place to Get Clean and Sober. Thank you guys for everything.


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    Santa Ana, CA 92704


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